This piece is not about Putin, at least not the one you are thinking of. There was a lot of rumbling in the West about who he is. But we don’t need to understand him if we understand the process. The process of the tyranny that is, which is thought of as cruelty and oppression and it is. But how it always boils down to this? It is true that historically tyrants have tended to be insecure, and tried to maintain their power by becoming increasingly oppressive. But why people can’t avoid concentration of power in the hands of a few with the intent to abuse it?
The truth might be that most people still don’t want to be in charge, don’t want to feel the existential pressure, don’t want to stare into the abyss. It arises from the tendency of people to be guided more by fear and hope than intelligence or wisdom. And here is when feelings of insecurity and inadequacy transform into blind faith and idolatry for a person or a group of people that overestimate their influence over outcomes that they are capable to attain.
The emergence of tyranny, therefore, begins with challenges, people don’t want to face, develops into inadequacy, and falls into a pattern of self-inflicted collective irresponsibility. This pathological pattern generally results in a poor decision-making and because the pattern is pathological, the system repeats its behavior to produce a downward spiral. But are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?
The history of nothing
Modern history shows that there is nothing modern to it. The centuries upon centuries of well and not so good documented history explain nothing and provide no answers to the challenges that we are facing today. But is that really true? Well, at least it seems that we are unable to see the answers, at least some of us. And when these “some of us” gain power over others, that is when any kind of unspeakable evil comes to life. From some perspective, the human history is merely a sequence of consequential attempts of self-destruction and gore. We should keep that in mind.
We need to deprive ourselves of the tyranny of the natural history if we ever want to build something more than a technically advanced copy of a Babylonian Tower. We will never understand each other unless we prevail over the forces of old and evil and start anew, finally making our history upward spiral rather than a circle. States, empires, cultures and even civilizations come and go. But why every next iteration looks more like multiplying by zero than adding some real value or meaning? Well, of course, we have all sorts of machines, virtual reality, space exploration, but in the sense of social evolution, we don’t have that much new to offer.
And it doesn’t really matter to what extent the statements above are true if we can’t use the knowledge. And that is undoubtedly the case. Knowing some arbitrary facts about history doesn’t substitute for understanding the world we are all living in. The other way to say it – “we are not living in the same world”. But it is our duty to finally make it so. To be on the same page, to be up-to-date, to be aware. The history of human progress has almost nothing to do with the collective thought (aware and meaningful action). But we have reached the level when any further progress should be based on the collective action rather than reaction as it was all the time before.
The story of the World War 2 teaches us that it doesn’t teach us anything. Because meaningful conception of what had happened lies not in the area of just remembering (that can never be possible outside of understanding) the facts, but rather in transforming it into the evolutionary instrument that can provide insight for further generations. As we can now see we once again failed to do so.
West and anti-West
Russia for centuries was “axing the window to Europe” as their historians put it and blocking it with new prejudices over and over again. In Ukraine, we all had the opportunity to see that prejudices and “away from the West” movement with anti-Maidain, anti-Nato and anti-West prepaid demonstrations. But why is this happening? What If Putin didn’t change because the West didn’t change?
The West was half recognizing the war in Ukraine for what it was, half calling it, half meaning it, half doing anything at all about it. Why? Perhaps there is no understanding who they are dealing with. Some light is shed in the now popular TV-series “House of cards” about the dark side of American politics. Where Russian president Viktor Petrov portrayed as a decent and even classy person with a sense of humor and good command of English. He is also somehow very tall. Well, the thing is – he is nothing like that. I am not saying that all Americans see it the way this series does. But you have to give it that, something is wrong with this idea.
Russia always wanted to be like the US so bad. And it still does. This is a big part of its inferiority complex. But maybe the United States wanted to be just a little more like Russia? Not to give a damn, or at least pretend not to.
To gain the knowledge and change that, we have to have no sympathy for the old ways, no sympathy for the prejudices, no sympathy for the lies. No sympathy and no excuse. Because fear of tyranny too often and too easily transforms into the tyranny of fear. After all, it is, in fact, a zero-sum game. And the West is not really winning yet. Because the strength of the tyrant lies within the weakness of the righteous. The reason seems to be that the West is afraid of winning, the West is afraid of action, the West reduced itself to merely react and even that is really weak. The West must act, whether it likes it or not. And not just to save Ukraine but to save its own civilization.
Please allow me to introduce myself
It can be understood why certain people and even leaders want to believe that somebody or at least some force is tending the light at the end of the tunnel. But it never can be an excuse for avoiding making necessary decisions. And in case of leaders sadly too often at someone else’s expense.
Every human being is convicted to go through all the stages of the species’ history, first natural, then social. And nothing can be changed. Furthermore, the success of this small wheel of evolution is not in any way inevitable. That is why we can’t rely anymore on the judgments of anyone in particular. Be it a democratic president or a tyrant. The difference becomes not that significant when an action or lack of it can both lead to the same excruciating results.
That is why I am not talking about Putin, everything has been said already. Everything is clear and he demands no further ado. It is time to act. It doesn’t matter who started it because it came into being due to the collaborative inaction of all of us. The only choice we are left with is a collective thought, reason, and action. From now on we shouldn’t depend on the decisiveness of one being or survive by a mere chance. It should be a self-conscious act of the mature society, an organism which is finally ready to make its presence obvious to itself and everybody who is in doubt.
As any other phenomenon tyranny abides by the rules. It can be recognized and therefore it can be avoided. The only thing we need – is to be united, alert and prepared. If we are truly committed to liberty and freedom, we can counter anything, even our collective weakness and finally transform it into our collective strength. So, be ready to meet the collective putin now, and any other who may come after him.
First published in 2015